Nile cruises from Egypt’s capital Cairo to Luxor resumed over the weekend after being halted 18 years ago because of security concerns.
A ceremony marking the resumption of cruises from the capital was held in Luxor, the mecca of Egyptian tourism, after the arrival of a vessel from Cairo.
Tourism Minister Mohamed Hisham Abbas Zazou said that “the restoration of security is the key to the recovery of tourism in Egypt.”
“Security on all cruises is being carried out in collaboration with the ministry of the interior,” he said, adding that the ministry’s goal was to match the 2010 season, when tourism generated $13 billion for the economy.
Islamist President Mohamed Morsi said on August 3 he was committed to ensuring the safety of tourists, whose numbers fell sharply after the 2011 uprising, delivering a severe blow to the economy.
Nile cruises, a major tourist attraction in Egypt, were stopped between Cairo and Luxor in 1994 because of the risk of militant attacks.
However, they continued to operate on the stretch of the river between Luxor and Aswan, the two main tourist towns in Upper Egypt.
The February 2011 uprising that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak also put a brake on tourism, a vital sector of the country’s economy.
In the first quarter of this year, 2.5 million tourists visited Egypt, an increase of 32 percent compared with the same period in 2011.
However, the figure still reflects a fall of 27.8 percent compared with the first three months of 2010.